Thursday, August 14, 2008

Party Crasher

Here I am, alone at a table at the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts.  I am in the Independent Authors corner along with fourteen other writers.  My shift on this first day began at 5:30 p.m.  Don't ask me why.  Tonight's featured speaker, Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient, Divisadero) isn't until 8 p.m.  Did someone think eager readers would storm the pavilion tent two and a half hours early?

There are several authors manning the table tonight.  They've gone to eat.  If we get a rush, I am in big trouble.  I am not feeling the stress.

It seems odd to be hawking my own book at a festival in which other authors are the stars.  The insecure part of me feels like an impostor, a gate crasher who was never invited to the party.  

Still, as Fouling Out is my first book, I have said that I will try anything to get the most of the experience.  As the night moves on, I realize that most of the other writers in my corner are self-published.  They all are better at the gift of gab, an asset when you are trying to sell books.  If only I could gain some of that ability simply through observation.

Michael Ondaatje is speaking as I write.  The thunderous applause to welcome him triggers awe, envy and satisfaction in me.  The sentiments of awe and envy are self-explanatory; the satisfaction comes in knowing some authors are honored, revered.  Pop stars, hockey players, actors and, yes, authors.

I remind myself that, for every famous pop star, hockey player, actor or author, there are many more who struggle for any recognition at all.  My shift ends after four and a half hours.  I have sold a grand total of two books.  After paying my publisher for the copies, my take home for the night is about six dollars or $1.33 per hour.  It is a reality check.  There is Michael Ondaatje and then there are the rest of us.

No comments: